Richard Felder is the owner of Village Jeweler in Ponte Vedra Beach and an accredited master goldsmith and GIA certified gemologist.
Can you please briefly tell us about your background?
I’ve been in the jewelry business for 52 years now. I have had my store here in Ponte Vedra for 32 years. I have been in Jacksonville for longer than that. I graduated from the New York School of Jewelry and became a goldsmith. Since then, with my years of experience and after taking a few different courses here and there, I have been designated as a master goldsmith. I’m originally from Charleston, South Carolina.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I most enjoy making people smile. I try my best to do repairs and custom order work. We also do get to meet a variety of people of all ages. In addition, I like working with my hands.
When you reflect over your career, how has the industry changed?
The industry has changed a lot. When I first went into the jewelry business, it was a luxury item. And then in the 80s, 90s and into the beginning of the 2000s, it became more of not a luxury item but an everyday item. People are not into the gold and stuff as much as they used to be. It’s beginning to more casual. Even my design work I’ve changed from more of a glamorous style to now very casual, everyday wear.
What do you recommend as a good Valentine’s Day gift?
A good, popular gift right now seems to be silver-related or silver-looking items. You should look for something that is more of an everyday wear, instead of something that is a specialty wear, like what we used to sell that would be worn for a special occasion.
What do you enjoy most about living in Ponte Vedra?
I like the community because it is an upscale beach community. It features a laid-back, casual atmosphere. There have been times over the 32 years I’ve been here when it was little more of a dressy feel. Now, it’s gotten very casual. That’s what I like about it. It’s not like you’re in a big metropolitan area. Here I know my customers. I have a good, long base of customers who have been coming to me for a long time. We see each other on a daily basis at restaurants, the grocery store, etc.. The town has a personal feel, which I enjoy.
What do you enjoy to do in your free time?
My free time is very limited since I have a store that is open five to six days a week. But in the free time I do have, I like to do a lot of walking. I will go to different towns and cities to walk. I’ll also walk the beach and areas here. I’ve been known to go 100 miles away just to do a 7- or 8-mile walk. I also have a little itch for nice cars, so I do go to car shows.
Edited by Jon Blauvelt